Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has revealed that he was impressed with the Reds' signing of Roberto Firmino even before he joined the club, and that he was looking forward to working with him from the off.
Firmino moved to Merseyside in the summer of 2015 after a very productive season in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim and while he was still a relatively lesser known quantity in world football, those who watched him play in Germany knew that the Brazilian had all the right attributes to succeed in England.
Although Firmino had a slow start to the Premier League, things changed soon after Jurgen Klopp's arrival, for the Brazilian international. Klopp got the best out of Firmino and he ended up with 12 goals at the end of the season, very productive considering the varying roles he played in the team as well as his overall contribution to Liverpool.
Klopp was looking forward to working with Firmino
Klopp expressed his delight at Liverpool's capture of Firmino, a player he knew well in his Bundesliga days with Borussia Dortmund, the German rates Firmino's ability very highly and knew exactly what he was gonna get from the Brazilian.
Klopp said that when he knew he was coming to Liverpool, he was "looking forward" to working with Firmino "very much". Klopp spoke about how "happy" Firmino was at Liverpool, and praised the Brazilian's character in saying that,"he doesn’t care about getting more credit or recognition".
He underlined Firmino's importance to the team and said that he is "very important" to the team because he can play in almost any position in the final third and said that he's sure Firmino can play the "other eight positions" as well.
Klopp believes that the Brazilian is a "different player" and said that,"He is a very important player, a connecting player, a finisher, a fighter, a defender, the first defender – that is important. A lot of things he is good at are very important for us.".
He praised Firmino's mentality and said that he's "still a good listener and a good trainer", he added that Firmino likes to "train" and "likes to learn" and Klopp says that those qualities are "excellent" and thinks Firmino is a "nice package".
Klopp surprised at lack of interest in Firmino
There was some interest in Firmino after his good performances for Hoffenheim and Brazil as well, but Liverpool acted quickly and signed him up to fend off any potential competition. Having known Firmino during his time in the Bundesliga, Klopp was surprised at the lack of competition for his transfer.
Klopp explained that nobody had "asked" him about Firmino but admitted that he thought the Brazilian was "one of the best" in the German top division.
He added,"So when I saw that Liverpool had signed him I thought, ‘How could Liverpool do this?’ They were not in their 100 per cent best moment and other clubs would have spent more on him, so I thought, immediately, 'What a good transfer for them'."
Klopp then expressed that he felt Firmino was a "good" signing for the club and that he felt "pretty sure" that other clubs would've paid more than what Liverpool paid for his services.
The German also highlighted the good work of Liverpool's international scouting department and believed that Firmino wasn't far away from playing in the top league in Europe.
Klopp said,"I can see in the Premier League you can not have the perfect overview of the Bundesliga, and in the Bundesliga you cannot have the perfect overview of the Premier League".
He explained that top class players are mostly known through the Champions League and expressed that you can only find the real hidden gems if you "watch each game at the weekend".
Klopp added,"That is normal, and a lot of people thought Hoffenheim, where is this, that is a lot of money. In Germany some people don’t know where it is, but if you play your football there, then you feel it is a tough place and so you know what a decent job the scout did, whoever brought him in for that price."
Klopp will be hoping Firmino can keep his good form this season going against West Ham as they look to keep the pressure on their title-rivals this weekend. The Brazilian has five goals and three assists so far this season in the Premier League.